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Cadre at the Ranger Training Brigade said its rare to have a command sergeant major among the ranks of students. In a 62-day course that spans from the mountains of north Georgia to the swamps of Florida, Ranger students undergo privations such as limited food and sleep while facing complex missions and field exercises, all with one goal leadership something a senior NCO already possesses in high degree.
But when it comes to leadership, theres always more to learn, said Command Sgt. Maj. Seth Mabus, who will assume responsibility as command sergeant major of the 8th Military Information Support Group (Airborne) Thursday. Mabus graduated from Ranger School Aug. 24.
I think theres a misnomer out there that combat experience will substitute the leadership lessons you will learn in Ranger School, he said. Just because you have combat experience doesnt mean you cant continue to hone your leadership skills, and Ranger School is one of the best environments to accomplish that. Even with my time in service and experience, I still learned and grew as a leader while in Ranger School.
Mabus said he decided to go to the course when he noticed how few Soldiers under his leadership with the psychological operations military occupational specialty had earned their Ranger tab.
My decision to go to Ranger School was made when I consistently saw unit slots going unfilled month after month , he said. Ive always had a desire to go to Ranger School, but when I was younger, it wasnt available for my MOS. Once it was approved for psychological operations, the slots were limited, so I felt junior leaders should attend first. Now I feel we have a shortage of NCOs in the psychological operations regiment and even in the Army as a whole who are willing to invest what it takes to successfully complete Ranger School.
Since he wanted more of his Soldiers to go to Ranger School, Mabus said the solution was to lead by example.
The master trainer of a unit is the command sergeant major, he said. Im also the standard bearer. This is where action comes in. Its almost impossible to lead from the front if youre unwilling to do those hard things yourself. You cant just say it; you have to do it as well. I decided to go to Ranger School to set the example and hopefully motivate these younger Soldiers to go.
The class Mabus was a part of started out with more than 300 students. By graduation, there were about 150 left.
Its a premier leadership school in the military, said Capt. Kevin McCabe, platoon tactical trainer with RTB. The school itself challenges you both physically and mentally.
McCabe, who served as the liaison officer for Mabuss class, said the NCO performed well above average when it came to mental and emotional performance a consummate professional, the epitome of a Ranger leader.
He stood out, McCabe said. He was able to maintain his composure in difficult situations, as well as excel when he was in charge. The students were always looking to him for guidance on what and how to do things.
Ranger School wasnt easy, Mabus said, but it was worth it.
The course is designed to bring stress, he said. Yes, the physical stuff was hard. Yes, there were days I had to reach down for everything within me to meet the standard. But there comes a time that your mental ability is just as important as your physical ability. A lot of times, Soldiers will quit mentally when they still have physical ability left. Ranger School is the hardest school Ive been to in 22 years in the Army but it wasnt as hard as everyone made it out to be.
Many Soldiers stay away from the course because of what Mabus calls urban myths: the fear of the unknown and the idea that its nearly impossible to succeed at.
With six to eight weeks of training, the average Soldier can be successful at Ranger School, he said. It comes down to, if I can go at 40 years old and make it, youve got no excuse.
In his own unit, Mabus said interest in Ranger School has increased.
Theres a whole lot more people talking about Ranger School. The key is the doing part, he said. I want to encourage Soldiers from across the Army to attend. The reward for being welcomed into the Ranger brotherhood is definitely worth the investment. To be known as Ranger you almost feel proven as a leader.
Personally, Mabus said he enjoyed the time being re-blued as a Soldier, and of all of his honors, he prizes the Ranger tab most.
I feel like I can retire, when the time comes, with no regrets now, he said.